Friday, December 30, 2011

Adding clip art

Yesterday the kids and I had some fun while taking these pictures.  I was stoked to find "the pink door" and the lovely brick wall adjacent to it.  It was an especially good find because our girl loves pink and she owns a ton of pink articles of clothing.  I am seeing future photos in this very spot.  I just pray no one paints the pink door a different color. 

Not to leave our boy out, the wall of bricks has specks of red, blue and gray that are perfect boy colors.  What a gem of a location!  As I was editing the photos that evening they seemed to lend themselves to some fun clip art.  So, I played around a bit and here is what I came up with.

This one reminds me of Isaiah 40:31.

Danger. . . .for sure!

She loves puppies and this little guy is so cute. 

And, my absolute favorite. . . . the clash of the siblings! 

This picture will be going somewhere special in our house.  Notice, our boy's shoe is untied.  It was like that in every picture.  So very like him.  I love that when he is 16 and can keep his shoes tied we will have the memory of the time in his life (age 6) when it was never tied. 

Ecclesiastes Encouragement

Ecclesiastes contains some of my favorite verses, including 3:11 which I have clung to since Beth Moore shared it in her Esther study.  I even included it in my blog header.  This morning I was reading through this book and found two verses that I thought were very encouraging for us and fitting for our children.  I added them to a few of the pictures I took of the kids yesterday and plan to print, frame and hang in their rooms.  Check them out.  I could do one for you, too!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

John 3:16

it all comes down to this

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Dress I Wore to My Mother's Memorial

I like this title.  It reminds me of a lifetime drama I watched once called Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy (or something like that). 

It is ironic.  It is strange.  It is something that most people don't think or talk about.  I mean really why would someone write about the clothing they wore to a memorial?  It goes without saying that this is not a normal conversation.  But, I am choosing to open it up today and share a little about my choice.

I did not want to wear black.  I knew that black was the proper color for funerals and such.  It is the respectable, acceptable and expected color.  But, in many ways my mother was none of these things.  She was full of life and never really liked rules.  In fact, if there was a rule in place she took great joy in breaking it.  Sometimes in a small subtle way, with no intentional motivation to the breaking.  The breaking just happened because she was busy having fun living life. 

Other times her rule breaking was more purposeful, definitely thought out and meant to happen.

 I did not set out to purposefully break the dress code for my mothers' memorial but I did think about it.  I did some thinking and came to the conclusion that I did not want to be a mournful black mess.  Instead, I truly wanted to be joyful that day.  I wanted to rejoice in her place in heaven and reflect on the blessing of her life.  I wanted to smile at every picture flashed across the screen and sniff every flower on the alter in great happiness.  I did not want to be sad.  I did not want to cry. 

So, instead of black I chose (with the help of one of my life-long best girls.  thanks De!) a beautiful shade of purple.  The cut was sophisticated.  It was short sleeved and hit mid calf.  It was perfect  and my mother would have loved it.  In fact,  I am certain she would have been very happy that I had chosen to follow her rule-breaker standard and wear a happy color.  A color that celebrated her and all that she had lived for.

 I wore that purple dress and I felt great.  I did smile and I cried too.  But, I smiled more.

 That would have made her happy too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Every step of the Way

How cool is this? 
We stumbled upon this sweet saying in one of our favorite photo spots downtown today. 
I guess someone else had done a fun shoot on these great old steps. 
 I may just print it out and hang it somewhere for our kiddos to see as a daily reminder. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Christmas 2011 has come and gone at our house.  We were blessed with lots of time together.  Lots of time with those we love and gifts that made our hearts sing!  Here are a few of our favorite things.

Ha!  My new upside down Woman's Study Bible.  I have been wanting one of these for so long now.  I actually scored this one at Half Price Books for $12.00.  Thanks to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for the gift card.  It is spent!

Our boy's new Lego set.

Our girl's new coloring book and markers.

Big Daddy's new piece of artwork created by our little artists.

Hoping you got some of your favorite things too!

Makin' & Bakin' Cookies

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Child Is Born

I enjoy this small piece of scripture  from Isaiah where some of the "names" of our savior are listed so much.  I am especially drawn to Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace this year as I continue to grieve the loss of my mother. 

 My mind has been a jumbled mess of past holiday memories.  It is strange how they come slowly like rain drops. 

A small memory of her sitting in her robe sipping coffee while my brother and I open presents. 
We are about 5 and 8.  DROP. 

The year she redid my bedroom for Christmas.  New comforter, new curtains and a new white wicker rocker.  I was about 11.  DROP. 

 The magical way she could fill a stocking till it almost bust but somehow held its contents tight.  DROP.  DROP.
 More recent Christmases where my children were the receivers of her gifts.  Last year she jumped right on the kids' new scooters and made a few trips around the driveway.   DROP. DROP. DROP.

Before I realize it the memories come fast and hard like a spring rain . . . . .
. . . . . from different years and times in my life. 

They come so fast I cannot stop them and while it is nice to have the memories I always end up shaking them off.  I physically shake my head as if to say, enough!  It has now become too painful. This trip down memory lane is too much and I am ready for it to stop. 
For now. 
Not forever. 
No, I will travel there again tomorrow but for now I want my mind to rest. 
 I want to think of nothing of the past but rather soak in the present.  
I want to see the great light today and celebrate freedom from darkness that only Christ brings. 
Merry Christmas, friends. 
Do rejoice in the light, in the birth of Jesus. 

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest. . . .

. . . . For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:2-3 & 9:6

Thursday, December 22, 2011

During this noisy time of year complete with the hustle and bustle of buying, wrapping, cooking, baking, singing and visiting.  I long for quiet and calm.  I hope to carve out time to just sit with my babes and dear husband.  It would be so nice to snuggle on the couch together.  No TV, no noise, no nothing but our King.  Our King and His word. 

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him.
Psalm 37:7

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Psalm 1

Today I was looking through some old photos from our trip to Chattanooga, TN.  I remember marveling at all the beauty God had so carefully crafted for that one place.  The mountains, the rivers, the grass, the flowers, the trees, the enormous rocks; all there in one spot.  Each amazing in its own right but even more majestic there together.  Fit perfectly like the pieces of a puzzle. 

The picture above is one we took at Rock City. 
The waterfall and green foliage reminded me of Psalm 1:3. 
 Below is all of Psalm 1:1-3 for your reading pleasure. 
Let us be blessed!

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
 or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yield its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Softened Hearts Equal Sweet Times

Today I have a story to tell.  It is a long story of a specific time in our lives when God showed himself ever so faithful.  A time when He showed us that if we soften our hearts and follow Him great blessings will come.  It is the story of how we have come to this very day, really.  How God has worked in our lives over the last three years. 

And so it begins. . . .

Around this time of year, three years ago in Birmingham, Alabama lived our happy little family.  We lived a comfortable life there in a modest home.  Big Daddy had a job that provided well for our family and I had a job that allowed me to be home with our kiddos.  I also had some amazing friends at work.  One special friend was a true sister in Christ that God had provided at a time when I needed her the most.  So, our life there was not without blessings and was not uncomfortable but we did long for home. 

We had lived in Alabama for almost four years and we wanted so badly to see our family more often and have the grandparents more present in our lives.  We had been praying for God to return us home to Texas before our oldest began kindergarten.  In fact, I prayed daily, each morning while walking for God to return us home.  I had prayed this prayer for so long in fact, (at least a year) that at one time while walking I felt a powerful shift in my heart and God saying, "I will return you home when it is time.  I know when it is time.  And when it is time, it will be in an amazing way that you will not expect." 

After hearing this, when I prayed about moving back home I would get that same overwhelming feeling that our return home would be unexpected.  The job for my husband would be one that we would not have ever thought of and it would be quick.  I found great comfort in this and my waiting was not as tortuous as before.  But I did still feel unsettled.  I have talked to other believers who have said that God has given them a time of intense unrest before making big changes in their lives as well.  Maybe you have  had that experience as well. 

So fast forward to a day that December 2009.  I do not remember why that particular morning had been so stressful.  Maybe because it was the holiday season and the fact that we could not travel home due to my hubby's work commitments, maybe just the fact that we had two kids under the age of 4 that we cared for daily.  I don't remember.  But what I do remember is falling onto my knees in my bedroom floor and crying out to God.   I said something like, "God, I cannot do this anymore!  I am tired.  I am homesick.  I am lonely.  I can't go on!  Please, help me, today."  Then, I pulled myself together.  Got dressed for work, fed my crew breakfast and headed out the door. 

Later that morning, I was in my classroom and I got a text message from my husband with a job posting in his hometown.  At a place that truly was never on our radar. We never imagined we could move back to his hometown.  We did not think the job market there would have anything for us.  We had  hoped we could get into Texas again but thought it would be in a major city like Houston, Dallas, Austin or San Antonio.  I remember feeling warmth as I replied, "Yes, Lord, hear our prayer."  Then told him to go for it.  Feeling that it was the answer to many prayers we had prayed.  I mean just that morning I had cried out to my Lord. 

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of time as he applied for, interviewed for and accepted the job.  It was a crazy time filled with anticipation, hope for the future and nervous anxiety as we thought over the selling of our house in a down market and the fact that the new job would be a significant cut in pay but carried great benefits.  We also wrestled with the fact that we would have only one car as his current car was a company car and we had sold his old truck when we moved to Bama four years earlier.  We did not have the money to buy another vehicle and were worried we would drain what small bit we did have in savings trying to make the move on his new salary.  In many ways, we felt like David facing Goliath.  Saying yes to this move at this time made no logical or financial sense.  Every business man and Dave Ramsey follower would have said don't do this.  And several friends and family members asked very pointed questions about our decisions.  Yet, through every obstacle God was there continuing to whisper, "I will provide.  Trust in me.  Move forward."  I felt Him daily saying, "This is what I want for you." 

Enter my mother and her idea for us to live in an RV in the pasture behind her and my step-father's house during this transition time. I'm certain her idea was two fold: to help us and to get us right in her backyard. We were not thrilled with the idea that at this point in our lives that we would need to rely on our parents. We were independent parents with two children of our own and were not prepared to humble ourselves to accept the offer. We prayed about it and God continued to move. 

It is funny how God's plan for our lives is so much better than the plans we make in our own head.  For the next six months we lived in that RV.  Those six months were truly a sweet time of family togetherness, probably due to the fact that we were SO close together and due to the fact that we did not have any worldly items to distract us from each other.  We had packed a few of the kids toys to bring along but due to limited space they did not have much to play with.  The lack of stuff was such a blessing as we spent many hours talking, playing, riding around the pasture, feeding cows and tinkering with little things.  Every evening we would load up on the Rhino and ride through the pasture and watch the sun set.  The kitchen in the RV was so small that we cooked most of our meals at my mother's.  We ate a lot of meals with her, my brother and step-father during that time and shared a lot of stories and laughs.

 It was a sweet time made even sweeter now by her passing.  It was God's plan for her and for me.  It was a time of healing of our relationship and a time of closeness like never before.  It was a time for memories.  Lots and lots of memories. 

Things could have gone so differently.  If God had not crippled us financially to the point of needing to stay there.  Truly, I could have jumped into a full-time job.  The kids could have gone to daycare and we could have worked ourselves sick and crazy to pay for a rental but this option was so much better.  Had we chosen the work/daycare option we would not have spent every waking day with my mother.  Our kiddos would not have the treasured memories of their ShaSha and I would not have her smile so implanted in my mind.  I would not have her laugh so fresh in my ears.  I would not have the pictures of her snuggling my sweet boy or the picture of her flying through the pasture on the Rhino with both kids and Evie dog riding along side her. 

And I think back to it all and the fact that certainly, we chose, but God had already chosen this path for us.  It was hard to humble ourselves to say yes to the path he chose.  This is what He wanted for us. It was hard to have some of our comforts taken from us for that time.  Yet as I type this I realize it was also SO easy.  It was easy to say yes to what God had provided.  Once we softened our hearts to listen, we heard so often, "this is what I have provided, take it."  And why shouldn't we.  Why wouldn't He provide what was good. And why would we say no to His goodness because it was not what we thought we should get.  Had we said no we would have missed it all.  We would have missed the last three years with my mother.  We would have missed the gift He wanted to give us.  The time.  The memories.  The life. 

There is so much more to this story.  So much more in all the details that God worked out.  Each day He set out our path and more of the picture came into frame.  Maybe I will share more.  I have always wanted to write down the way that he had worked during that time in our lives.  It was so amazing and I have wanted to share it for a while.  The morning after my mother died I woke and it all hit me like a ton of bricks.  I had already come to appreciate the six months we lived in that RV in the pasture for many reasons but none of them did I appreciate like the one reason that mattered most; God gave me my mama almost daily for six whole months.  Her spunk and joy were are mine!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

so, Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  Hebrews 10:28

Friday, December 16, 2011

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.

Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
Psalm 87: 10-13

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A joyful heart is good medicine . . . . .
Proverbs 17:22

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Riches in Secret Places

I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places,
so that you will know that it is I, the LORD,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
Isaiah 45:3

I have lived this verse before.  Or I thought I had lived this verse before.  Unfortunately, in this season of my life I am once again "living" it.  I am living it in a deeper and more heartfelt way.  I am living it in a way that is more pain filled than I ever thought possible.  And I am living it with the HOPE that only our Lord Jesus brings.  Because I know that in the darkness there are treasures to be found.  Treasures that exist in the light but we somehow don't see.  Or we see them but not for their full potential and worth.  I am walking with my eyes, my heart and my arms open to receive the riches that are hidden here.  I am seeking the treasures that my Lord has prepared for me, for I know they will be  great!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Brother's Awesome Family

This weekend we celebrated Thanksmas with my dad's side of the family.  We made a drive down to the coast which is always a fun place to be for the holidays.  I was super excited to snap a few pictures of my brother Blake, his wife Nicole and their always expressive little guy Hudson.  Unfortunately, the weather turned out cold and windy so our photo time was cut short.  Hoping to try again when the weather cooperates. 

Little Hudson has the BEST smile!

Blessed to call them family!

praying this verse over our house today.  giving God the glory and praying peace for all men and "little people" 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pinecone Ornaments

Today I wanted to share these fun pine cone ornaments.  I had been thinking about making these after I saw some similar ones on a blog.  As God would have it, yesterday afternoon our friend from church who just happens to be one of the previous owners of our house dropped off a bag of pine cones.  Thanks Mrs. Sharen!!  We scoured our craft supplies to find small decorations we could glue onto the pine cones.   

We treated each pine cone as an individual Christmas tree.  Both kiddos decided on the placement of each special decoration.

I added the ric rac with hot glue to act as the hanger.  We have been blessed with two days of making ornaments that didn't cost us a thing. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Paint chip Ornaments

This year we are trying to do several no or low-cost ornaments and activities with the kids.  Our goal is to keep this advent season fun but stress free.  It's a lofty goal but one we are taking on just the same.  I saw an idea on pinterest where paint sample strips had been used to make Christmas trees.  Yesterday we stopped by Lowe's for a few items so while we were there I visited the paint department and grabbed a few paint sample strips in various shades of green.  Later in the evening we used cookie cutters as a template and traced and cut out the shapes.  Then we punched a hole in the top and added some ribbon. 

Cute, free (we did buy paint at Lowe's so we didn't just take sample strips), kid-friendly and quick.  Quick seems to be key for us lately as we try to fit in an activity in the evenings before bath and bedtime. 

We are still working on our fine motor/cutting skills.

These would be fun to do with other cookie cutter shapes (angel, star, cross) in other color combos as well.  They could be laminated for durability if you so desired.  We made four total ornaments so each kiddo worked on two ornaments which was the perfect amount of time for us. 

. . . . . . . .O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How richly God has decked thee. . . . . . .

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kasen Turns One

A while back I had the chance to take a few pics of the cutiest little one year old, Kasen.  He was so happy and smiled almost the entire time.  We tried out a few different locations and his sweet grandma was kind enough to carry him and chairs from place to place. 

Don't you just love the shirt that his mama Linsey got him for his special day? 

The green chair and white wall are such favorites of mine. 

His daddy is a huge baseball fan. I love that Linsey brought these props to personalize the pics.

Such an angelic little guy. 

Getting ready to twist his mama's arm so I can take more pics of this cutie.  ; )